Joe Polaneczky, aka Joe P., was born in Philadelphia, PA. He graduated from Bishop McDevitt High School and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in English with a minor in History from Millersville University of Pennsylvania. He lived in California for twelve years, where he studied landscape architecture at University of California Berkeley Extension while working in landscape design and restoration, and then worked in the wine business. He earned a teaching certificate from Dominican University and taught high school English in San Rafael, California. After visiting his wife Rachel’s family in Athens for many years, Joe moved here in 2003 with Rachel and their two children, Grace and Luke (now in college) to be closer to family and enjoy everything Athens has to offer. Joe taught at Clarke Central High School before becoming a Realtor, and in 2018 opened his own brokerage, Nabo Realty. Joe lives on the Eastside with Rachel and their two rescue pups Myla and Jazzy.
What inspired you or led you to your current career?
It was like a lot of things: a matter of chance. I started to do my real estate license once before while I was an English teacher at Clarke Central, but I put it on hold. Then teaching got to be a difficult position to balance family and work, so I decided to get out and I went back to what I used to do in California, which was landscape design and restoration because that was my grub stake and what I was good at. It was really the only thing I knew besides my people skills. So when I left teaching I started a company called Curb Appeal, essentially helping people get their homes ready for sale, but I was just taking any landscape restoration work I could get. Then, I had a bad Friday, and I was working for a guy who was in real estate and who was a mentor to a good friend of mine who was also in real estate. My truck had broken down, and it was a hot day and he was all clean and I wasn’t. He just knocked me on the head and said what are you doing, why are you doing this, you should get into real estate you would do great, and I pretty much immediately re-upped my subscription to get my license online, got my license online and started taking leads from a friend and from there I got out on my own and never looked back.
What do you love about your current career?
Helping people, and although I’m basically always on call (and I mean always), I still feel like I have daily freedom in a way I need to not go crazy.
What is your favorite restaurant in Athens, and what do you love there?
So many. The Expat (lately, their outside patio) and I love their charcuterie and cheeses and their Gougere (a cool cheesy bread thing), which they just put back on their menu! I love their wine selection by the glass and by the bottle, and their lamb ragu pasta in the winter is amazing comfort food. And, of course Seabear is great for just a good old oyster happy hour throwdown with my wife Rachel and some kind of delicious but well-priced white wine. They treat us like we are cool even though we aren’t so that’s fun too!
If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?
Right now, as far as exotic places, I would have to say some place like Japan to see our old college friend David who we have talked about seeing forever there. I always think about going to see him on the island of Shikoku, where he lives, and eating good sushi with him, and just hanging out and checking out a completely different culture. I would also like to do Northern Spain because it’s a greenbelt (or whatever it is called) and it is apparently a lot like Scotland and Ireland, which I really didn’t have any understanding of until I started researching more. I would love to go up there and do the Basque country and eat Basque food and go out to the Northwest coast and check out that wine area out there because I love their white Albarino wines.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
“Those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter.” I think I’ve always struggled with and worry about what people think about me (we all do, I suspect), and this quote serves as a good reminder to let that worry go as much as possible and just be yourself.
What is your favorite movie?
I would say The Big Lebowski or anything by the Cohen Brothers. I think an awful lot about There Will be Blood too because Daniel Day Lewis is such a study in that movie, and I really dig on that period in American history and having lived in CA for 12 years makes it even more poignant.
If you could see any band, anywhere, who would it be and where?
Just for the sheer spectacle of it, I would like to see The Doors at The Hollywood Bowl when JIm Morrison was like the total lizard king. Or Mozart doing a chamber concert.
What is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
Well, I am the youngest of nine. I think some people in the business world don’t know that. The other thing that maybe some people don’t know is that I was Jerry Garcia’s [The Grateful Dead] gardener for about eight years and we had Christmas Eve at his house one time. Then, I taught his daughter in high school in my new career as an English teacher. I used to eat lunch with her when she was four, then I taught her when she was 14. Really cool kid. She was one of the founding members of The Good Times Club, a club I was the advisor for at Terra Linda High School where I taught (truth be told, I started it with a handful of kids so I could fulfill my extracurricular activity portion of my contract and it was kind of a “watch this” to the administration. All we did was play music loudly in my room after school and eat hot dogs and stuff. The kids loved it.)
What would you put on a billboard if you could put anything on a billboard?
Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Hopefully it would lessen road rage and remind people to be a little kinder and more tolerant of others. I need that tattooed backwards on my forehead.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Stop trying to think about the past and future. Stay in the present and fear and anxiety will go away.
If you could choose to have lunch with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and where?
It wouldn’t be lunch though, it would be hanging out with Shakespeare on one of his last nights on one of his runs at The Globe. So, it would be a late night session in an old medieval or renaissance bar in England with really low ceilings and a fireplace and just hotter than Hades, but everyone is yelling and having a good time.
What three words or phrases come to mind when you think of the word “home”?
Peace, warmth and family (and dogs).